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Catch-22

  For the three of you that follow my blog, you may realize what today is.  The other five will have no idea.  So, today’s title: Catch-22.  Another of my multiple meaning titles.  Today is my own personal Catch-22.  It was 22 years ago today that my sister passed away from Cystic Fibrosis.  A chronic illness and character defining trait that we both share.

  As you may know, Catch-22 is a paradox made popular by the book and movie of the same name.  Basically a Catch-22 is a no win situation.  You may ask how that applies to the death of my sister.  Well, I’ve been thinking about it since hearing one of her favorite songs this morning (Helpless Hoping by Crosby, Stills, and Nash).  It just came to me tonight, after thinking of a conversation I had earlier today.

  I like to say that this is not a sad day for me, and about 95% of me means it.  I’m glad that my sister is no longer in pain.  I know very well the last few years of her life were miserable.  She was on constant oxygen and tied to a tank by a 100′ canula.  As she said it, she had only one speed, slow.  And, I distinctly remember her coughing so hard, in a vain attempt to save her own life, that she would break blood vessels in her lungs.  It didn’t worry her, but the amount of blood I saw reminds me of what can happen.

  At the same time, the other 5% knows that I’m just lying to myself and that I miss my sister terribly.  Anyone who has lost a loved one can understand part of the loss.  The rest of it comes from the idea that we did share this illness and that it really does define the character of those it touches.

  I have a very strong memory from about 10 years ago, maybe even less.  Kristen and I had my parents over for dinner at our previous house.  I’m not sure if Michael was born yet and he’s 8 now, so I think it was about 10 years ago.  Anyway, we were having coffee and dessert after dinner and somehow we started talking about Judy.  After a few minutes of talking a notice a tear in my mom’s eye.  Now, that’s natural, a mother missing her daughter.  But then she says “Oh, you big softy!” while looking in my dad’s direction.  Turns out that he’s the one that started crying first, not mom.  My mother is a rock and I’ve very rarely seen her cry.  But, I’ve seen it.  My father, until that point, had never cried in front of me.  Not that he was too much of a man to do it, or anything like that.  He’d just never had that amount of pain occur in front of me.  I’m sure he’d cried many times before that with regards to losing his daughter.

  So, there it is, my Catch-22.  I’m crazy to say that I’m glad Judy is gone.  But, I’m so very happy she’s no longer in that constant pain.  I would be crazy to wish her back into that miserable existance just because I’m selfish.  I’m miss my sister, and it is a sad day, no matter what the 95% of me says.

P.S. – Next March 5th will be a happy post, in keeping with tradition!

P.P.S – Here’s a picture of me and Judy that was taken for a national CFF campaign.  They never used it, but I love the picture.  (And I HATE my picture).

Getting Better

  How do we get better?

  I’m working at getting better in a couple of ways.  First, not in order of importance, but still first.  Getting better at running.  I’ve decided many times that I want to get better and faster.  But, until now, I’ve never really done it.  Yesterday, I took the first steps.  Those were some hard and fast steps too.  I’m working on a program by Pete Pfitzinger and the first quality workout is geared toward improving the VO2Max.  The workout is a series of fast repeats.  They are supposed to be between 95% – 98% of Heart Rate Reserve.  For me, that’s between 185 and 189.  Let me tell you, I was about 13 BPM low on my workouts.  Talk about hell.  Anyway, I’ll get better at them and at running.  Next week I start the Lactate Threshold training, which improves speed at specific distance, i.e. Endurance Training.

  Second, probably first in order of importance, health.  Ok, people with CF, like me, typically have issues with this one.  Now, I’m very lucky, I’m very healthy.  But, I have things that I need to improve.  My weight, I’m about 10 pounds too heavy still.  I know, people with CF need the extra weight.  But, it’s not good to have extra weight in distance running.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds so far and need to lose another 10.  Also, my glucose control needs some work.  Now, I’m not diabetic, but my fasting level is too high.  The nice thing is that the weight loss is really helping. 

  The last is to improve my lungs.  Well, I can’t really do that.  But, by helping to support the CF Foundation and the research they do, I can help myself.  I can also be a lab rat, which I have been many, many times.  I’ve gotten benefits from Pulmozyme, Tobi, Cayston (aztreonam), VX-809, and many others.  I’ve also seen my share of disappointments, namely Gene Therapy and CPX.  But, it’s by taking some of those chances that I’ve gotten where I am now.

  The final area I’m working to improve is leadership.  Most people think of leadership as a work thing.  Not me!  I, of course, want to get better for work and my career.  I also want to improve my leadership to help CF (if I could just qualify for Boston…that would help alot), leadership for my family, and of course for my dog.  (Leo has some separation anxiety issues, I’m hoping leadership will help fix them) 

  Leadership is hard.  It’s hard because sometimes you have to say or do the hard thing.  I’ve been in that situation at work this week.  And, maybe I’m fighting the absolute wrong fight, but I feel passionate about it.  I’ve had three different situations this week where people have told me “Thanks for saying that.  It’s exactly what I was feeling, but I didn’t feel comfortable expressing it.”  Well, that’s probably code for “I’m glad you’re going to get in trouble, and not me!”  But, honestly, I think that it’s important to say what you feel is right.  Leadership isn’t easy, but without leaders we never get anywhere.

    I hope I do get better at all of these things.  I hope that the changes can make a difference.  Don’t be afraid to get better.  Don’t be afraid to lead.

Team for Life: 2010

  I’ve waited to make this post because, well honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run with the team.  Well, let me tell you officially, I can and will be on the team this year.  Yesterday was my sixth run since my ankle injury and I accidentally did 5 miles, not 4. 

  It was a very cold morning, somewhere around 15 degrees.  I had talked with Ali, the new director of the Cincinnati CFF, and told her that I would get her through her first team run.  But, when I got to Fleet Feet and looked at the course, it was the Mt. Everest course again.  Bluewing, Lobeila, and Waxwing!  There is no way my ankle will do that right now. 

  So, I decided to take Ali, her husband Dave, and their friend Abby on the Kenridge Lake route.  From what I had remembered, it was a four mile run.  Now, Ali told me that she was “slow,” around a 12 minute mile on the treadmill.  However, yesterday, she was pushing the pace.  But, that’s a good thing.

  Dave didn’t do much talking, and left us at about mile 1.  I think he felt we were going too slow.  Funny, we found him half way around the lake, not exactly understanding my directions (hard to imagine).  But, I think he had worn himself out.  He ended up walking with Abby for a while, and Ali and I didn’t see them until about 10 minutes after we finished.

  Abby, new to the team, is crazy.  She had abdominal surgery 3 weeks ago, and was running with us yesterday.  She had a tough time, I can’t understand why.  But, she did finish the 5 miles. 

  Ali and I had a great conversation.  Mostly “shop talk” about CF and the Foundation, etc.  I’m glad to say that she “gets it.”  She’s young enough to know that she doesn’t know it all, but experienced (notice I didn’t say old, Ali) enough to  handle the role of Executive Director.  She also has a very close friend with CF.  We talked about him, about CF, the team, and way too much about me. 

  I look forward to more runs with her.  I also look forward to running with old friends, Victoria, Ralph, Jamie, Amye, Scott, and a whole host of others.  I’ll miss a few friends that aren’t running with us this year.  Priorities change over the years, and I get that.  But, they’re always welcome to come back home to the team.

New Year: 2010

  It’s official, 2009 is history.  It was both a good and bad year for my running career. 

  The Good: I completed two marathons in two weeks.  I ran the 113th Boston Marathon!  I accomplished my goal for the marathon season and raised over $4500 for CF. 

  The Bad: I ran a 5 hour marathon at Boston and a (almost) 6 hour marathon in Cincy.  I’m still disappointed in that.  Sorry, but there’s no changing that for me.  I know I can do better.  I’ve also been off from running for 3+ months with this stupid ankle injury.  I also failed to lose the weight that I wanted to lose.  Most of that was due to the injury, but that’s just an excuse.

  As for the ankle, it is healing, but slower than I’d like.  And, honestly, I’m angry about it.  Right now, I have three bone bruises that still need to heal up.  According to my doc it could take another 6-9 months before they are completely healed.  So, basically, I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again.  It’s really up to my pain level.  I’m allowed to workout on the ankle, and do anything that doesn’t hurt.  So the elliptical, strengthening, and some other cardio.  I’m hoping to take a spinning class tomorrow morning (assuming I can sleep tonight).  I think spinning will help me get my cardio system back into running shape.  It should also help with endurance, as the classes are 40-60 minutes. 

  So, you may ask, what are my goals for 2010?  First and foremost, get my ankle healthy.  I really miss my running and I don’t want to miss the Team for Life season this year.  That’s out of my control, but I’m going to do everything I can to run with the team.  Second, lose my extra weight and get back into running shape.  I figure I need to lose about 15 -20 pounds.  I can do it, I just need to set my mind to it.  The beauty of me being angry about the ankle is that I can use that anger to drive me.  I’m pretty good at that.  Third, and finally, I want to improve my running.  I want to get faster and have better endurance. 

  I have a plan for all three.  Part of that plan is pushing myself.  So far in my running career, I’ve never really done that.  Sure I’ve run marathons, etc.  But, I’ve not pushed myself to get better during my training.  I’ve stayed in my comfort zone.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to kill myself, but I need to push myself out of that comfort zone to reach all of my goals.  We’ll see how it goes, but at this point, I’m determined.  And if you know me, you know that if I’m determined to do something….I’ll do it.

Who Needs Sleep?

  I’m tired.  I’m really tired.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sleep very well lately.  Part of it is the ankle.  If I have to get up in the middle of the night, it aches for a while after I lay back down.  A second part is also the ankle.  Not knowing what’s going on with it and why it still hurts is bugging me.  Third, it’s Christmas time.  Stress is always here around Christmas.  Between the money literally flying out of my hands and the PTSD it’s tough to sleep.

  I’m going back to the doc again in about 12 hours.  Something just isn’t right with my ankle.  It’s tight, which I expected.  But, I still can’t stretch it out.  See, when I try to stretch it burns.  It burns on the inside of my ankle from my medial malleolus (the bump on the inside of the ankle) all the way to the back and bottom of my ankle.  Imagine drawing a square over that area and that’s where it hurts.

  I know I have tendonitis, but this doesn’t feel like tendonitis pain.  I think one of the ligaments healed inside the joint, or I have part of the posterior tibial tendon caught in the joint, or I have a pinched nerve.  I’m going to ask the doc to send me for a second MRI.  I don’t think he’ll disagree.  I just need the answer and if I need surgery, I need to get it scheduled.

  I think another reason I’m not sleeping is that I’m not exercising.  Usually I can get some exercise in during the week and expend some of this energy and stress.  Ok, yes, you’re right, I could still workout.  And, I need to do it.  I guess I need to start hitting the cross trainer and hope that it helps me get back on track.

  As for a marathon in the spring.  It’s not going to happen.  In fact, I don’t know if I’ll even be ready for  a half marathon.  I hope to be able to at least run the half, but I just don’t know.

  In case you’re wondering, the CFF marathon team here in Cincinnati, Team for Life, needs members.  The fundraising goal is $1000.  I know, that sounds like a lot of money.  Trust me, it’s easy to raise.  If you’re reading this and are interested in running in the Flying Pig (Marathon, Half Marathon, or 4 person relay), please leave me a comment.  With the economy, the CF Foundation is hurting too.  My life and the lives of 30,000 other CF patients are directly affected by the work and fundraising the foundation does.  I truly appreciate anyone that runs with the team.  We are not just raising money, we’re practicing sacrificial giving, as Coach Wheeler says.  Time to try to get some more sleep.

Shoot Me: Part II

  Yesterday was my second follow-up appointment with my podiatrist.  It was a good appointment, but I should explain my Physical Therapy appointment first. 

  Therapy was at 8 AM.  I got there about 40 minutes early, so I hit the cross-trainer for some cardio first.  I ended up going 20 minutes at 190 strides per minute.  It was far from easy, but I really needed to push myself.  My ankle hurt, but not too much.  The range of motion on the cross trainer isn’t that large.  I then proceeded to do all of my leg work.  I did the leg press, toe raise, and “running” exercises on the reformer.  I also did lunges, squats, and step ups on the evil bosu.  Then a few other balance and proprioception exercises.

  Jamie, my therapist, also wanted to work on my stairs.  See, I can’t go down them very well.  I typically point my toe and land on the ball of my foot when coming down stairs.  I explained to her that the inside of my ankle hurts when I do that.  Honestly, I thought it was my deltoid.  After some discussion and prodding, we located the source of the pain.  It wasn’t the deltoid, it was the posterior tibial tendon.  I had tendonitis.  I had all of the classic symptoms: pain on the medial side of the foot, fatigue after minimal activity, and pain when rising on the ball of the foot.  Jamie wrote a quick note to my doc and I took it to him.

  So, at the doc’s I handed him the note.  He read it and said that he figured that’s what I had.  He said that dealing with this injury is like peeling an onion.  Last time we treated the joint line of my ankle, as that was the most painful at the time.  Yesterday, he gave me another shot to address the tendonitis.  He gave it to me under ultrasound and did a great job.  He hit the trigger point of the tendon exactly, as my the tendon fired almost immediately upon the injection of the med.

  Today, my ankle feels about 80%.  It’s not perfect, but it’s to the point were I can work on range of motion and flexibility much easier.  I’ve very happy about that, although I think I’ll need another shot in a couple of weeks just to make it 100%. 

  I’m sad to say that I’ll be missing the 100th running of the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race tomorrow.  I was really looking forward to running it, but my ankle is nowhere near ready to run.

Shoot Me! Please?!

  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted so I’ll do a quick recap.  On October 27th I went back to my podiatrist for a follow-up on my ankle.  At that point, my doc told me that I was allowed to begin bearing weight on it.  It was a slow process, but about 10 days later I was “walking” on it without the crutches.

  Since then I’ve been to Physical Therapy twice a week.  We’ve been working on Range Of Motion, stretching, strengthening, and proprioception.  I’d love to tell you which I need the most work on, but I think it’s all of them.  I’ve made some progress, but am still limited by the swelling in my ankle.  This swelling is causing me pain when I try to increase my range of motion.

  Today, I got to go see my doc again.  He was very happy with the stability of my ankle and feels confident that the ligaments are healing correctly and are not in the joint.  So, that means no surgery.  I did discuss my limited range of motion due to the pain.  I also mentioned my plantar faciitis, which is to be expected after not moving it over a month. 

  The good news is that he shot me up.  That’s right, more of the MLB players fix for what ails you….steriods.  Kenalog in fact.  He gave me the shot in the medial side of the ankle, right near my deltoid ligament.  Within about 2 seconds a tingle shot up my foot and it was completely numb in about 30 seconds.  Of course, I did joke around that I wouldn’t be able to drive home.  Oh, and I should note, I took him about 20 of my world-famous Chocolate Chip cookies.  He wanted a lemon meringue pie, but those don’t travel too well.

  My next stop was at Physical Therapy.  I went there immediately afterwards so that I could get in some of the beating while I couldn’t feel the foot.  I did more today that I have any other day.  Of course there is the reformer and the calf board stretches.  But, I also did some work on the flat side of the Bosu.  Balance, squats, throwing and catching a medicine ball, and generally any other torture they could think of while I was on there.  I also did 30 modified lunges (I’m really feeling those right now!)  and then Jamie massaged my plantar fascia as well as my entire ankle.  We finished up with ice and stim, which felt great. 

  I’ll be interested to see how it feels tomorrow but it’s kinda sore right now.  I’m hoping to be back to running within a few more weeks.  There are no promises, but I’m going to keep working toward that.  All in all, I’m back to most of my activities but still no running.  Stairs are still a small issue due to the proprioception.  And, I really have almost no lateral strength in the ankle yet.  But, it’s getting better every day.